Australian rally fans haven’t had it easy recently. The World Rally Championship hasn’t competed down under since 2018 and there hasn’t been an Aussie regular in the WRC for a decade. Luke Anear is ready to change all of that.
Or at least part of it. Commercial genius that he is – and he is, check out his ground-breaking app SafetyCulture – he’s probably not going to land Rally Australia back on the calendar in time for next season. But he is aiming to drive a Ford Puma Rally1 Hybrid on selected rounds of the 2022 World Rally Championship; a campaign that could be supplemented by Rally2 outings at the same level.
Anear’s already had first-hand experience of the Puma, having sat alongside Sébastien Loeb during the nine-time world champion’s Rally1 test last month.
He’s been competing in Australia for the last four years, driving a Ford Fiesta Rally2 with ever-increasing speed – one of the reasons M-Sport granted him a test in the Fiesta WRC in October.
Anear is the first – and only – Australian to have driven a current generation World Rally Car at competitive speeds.
Having completed more than 80 miles in the Fiesta WRC at M-Sport’s test site in Cumbria, Anear told DirtFish: “The car just does everything so well. The aero, the mid-corner grip is amazing; these cars stop and go better than anything else. I won’t forget this in a hurry.”
Asked about his plans moving forward, Anear added: “There are a few conversations to be had, but I want to try to do five rounds of the WRC as a start point. Let’s see how we go. It should be a lot of fun and nice to get in among the best in the sport and see where we fit.”
M-Sport team principal Richard Millener said: “We’ve known Luke a while now, through his ARC (Australian Rally Championship) participation and the work with SafetyCulture. We were very pleased to see Luke in the car and, from watching him and looking through the data, he did a good job. He certainly wasn’t scared of it!
“We’re working on some options and a program with him for 2022 – things are looking good. He’s keen to develop as a driver, we’ve seen his results and his pace improving over the last few years in Australia and we’re interested, as he is, to see where he sits in the WRC.”
Chris Atkinson is Australia’s most successful WRC driver ever. The Queenslander drove a factory Subaru from 2005 until the end of 2008. He then enjoyed limited programs with Mini, Citroën and Hyundai.